Pros and Cons of Starting a Patreon or Kickstarter

We live our lives online. We share our stories, photos, and opinions. We sell our clothes, cars, and furniture. We even start our careers online. Kickstarter and Patreon are two crowdfunding platforms that can help us launch and maintain creative endeavors, but there are pluses and minuses to each approach.

What is a Kickstarter Again?

kick-start·er

noun

  1. a device to start an engine by the downward thrust of a pedal, as in older motorcycles. 

Kickstarter, in keeping with the definition above, helps creative entrepreneurs start their engines by sharing a project they want to launch. The project is crowdfunded, which means friends, family, and the world at large help fund the product, game, book, or artistic project in exchange for a variety of rewards or an actual finished piece of work.  

conscious_collaborative_artist.jpg

Kickstarter creators set up a description of what they’re working on, record a pitch video, and share their fund goal and reward list publicly. The bigger the monetary backing is, the better the reward is. The fund goal is usually the amount it would take to develop and produce the product.

However, the project will only be funded if the goal amount is completely reached by the set deadline. As a plus, this is a very low risk way to begin trying to validate a concept. If the goal isn’t reached, the product will not be developed at that time and no money exchanges happen. If the goal amount is reached, though, creators can start sending out rewards / the actual product. 

Kickstarter is a great way to raise money quickly and move to the next step in launching your business, and while these advantages may perk your ears, there are also some drawbacks to keep in mind.   

The Fees – Kickstarter takes a percentage of the pledge money and, depending on your financial margins, this could be a deal breaker.

Transparency – You have to keep your backers up to date every step of the way, which can be frustrating if the project isn’t going well.

Restrictions – Your project must fit into Kickstarter’s categories; you must have tangible rewards for your backers, and you cannot raise money for charity.

 

So, Is it Worth It?

Any creative jumping off point can be risky. Kickstarter could be a viable way to generate startup costs and even long-term product investment, but ultimately it’s up to the creator to decide.

 

So, What The Heck is a Patreon? How is it different than a Kickstarter?

pa·tron

noun

1. a person who gives financial or other support to a person, organization, cause, or activity.

Patreon comes from the word patron and, as another form of crowdfunding, also relies on public pledge money. Unlike Kickstarter, Patreon focuses on funding the person running the show: the person behind the product or service. The pledges are acquired without a deadline as one of the goals is to provide the creator with sustainable income over time.

Bloggers and podcast hosts can find a place on Patreon as well as crafters, novelists, and musicians. Patreon allows active artists and other creative types to find a way to further monetize their work.

Like Kickstarter, Patreon has multiple tiers; subscribers gain access to more or better rewards when they invest more money. With Patreon, however, you can also give out levels of service in addition to, or instead of, gifts or products. For example, at a lower level you might receive newsletters, exclusive digital content, and discounts on merchandise, but at a higher level you might receive a special Q+A or instructional Skype session with the creator, not to mention the finished book, game, or album they were working on.

Patreon gives creators the chance to be in frequent contact with their subscribers and can rely on consistent cash flow as it is subscription-based.

One of the setbacks of Patreon is the lack of discoverability. Unless you’re already a fan of someone who is starting a Patreon, it’s difficult to search their site for your interests. Kickstarter, however, has categories lining the front page – Music, Comics & Illustration, Film, Arts, Publishing, etc…

Another check in the con column for subscribers is that monthly subscriptions process even when there is no new content or reward. Inactivity for a long period of time can cause a creator to lose subscribers and money.

Can I Make a Living Doing This?

Patreon can work alongside a creator’s social media, blog, and YouTube presence to expand a fan base and perhaps reach their end goal of creating full time. But, unless you’re in the thick of that process, maybe don’t quit your day job just yet.

In Conclusion

What kind of idea do you want to launch? Weigh the pros and cons of both crowdfunding platforms and if you feel one of them is a good fit, may the viral marketing odds be ever in your favor.

Looking for marketing help? Have a new business idea? We’re here to help you develop your idea into a sustainable reality. Contact us for more information about the scope of our services.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Social Media

A message from Doug Worner, Partner at Conscious Collaborative.

10 years ago if you used the phrase “social media” you would probably have received some strange looks and comments from people.  Today you could hardly go anywhere and find someone who does not know what this phrase means. Whether it is FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Reddit, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Quora, Vine, Periscope, BizSugar, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Digg or Viber, the chances are pretty high that the person you are talking to will have heard of or already use several of these social media platforms.  

social_media.jpg

Social Media: The Good

There are many viable uses for social media. I have family members who are living long distances from other family members who use social media to stay in contact.  It is a great way to share pictures and even videos. And makes communicating much easier. This means we can stay more connected with family and others and experience things we might have otherwise missed.  It is also a great way to build and establish new friendship and keep up with important human rights news.

American Friends of Magen David Adom is a good example of a human rights organization that is saving lives.  From there FaceBook page:

Magen David Adom is Israel’s ambulance, blood-services, and disaster-relief organization, serving as emergency medical first responders for the state’s more than 8 million people. MDA is the only organization mandated by the Israeli government to serve in this role, but it’s not a government agency, so it relies on people like you for funding. Through your gift, you’re saving lives.

Many human rights groups use social media to get the word out about injustices.  It is a great way to get news alerts. And, for some companies, it serves as a great channel for digital advertising.  And social media has served one area close to my heart, disaster relief support. Social media has and continues to play a vital role in communicating during and after a disaster.  From FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency):

Social media plays an increasing role in how people communicate. Whether in the middle of a disaster or in everyday situations, more are exchanging information by using the Internet, texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube or using apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat.

People with smart phones can download FEMA’s mobile app to receive weather alerts, safety reminders and preparedness tips, disaster resources including open shelters and to submit disaster photos to help first responders. Learn more online at fema.gov/mobile-app.

Emergency management officials are aware of social media trends and are adapting to the new communications outlets in order to reach a larger audience of all ages.

Many local emergency managers in Florida provide social media outlets for community members to look for information during disaster response and recovery phases.

FEMA has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FEMA and an Instagram page at www.instagram.com/FEMA. Also, FEMA Region IV—which includes Florida—has a Twitter account at twitter.com/femaregion4 where important information is posted. In times of crisis, they help share critical information with Twitter alerts.

https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2018/04/16/social-media-and-emergency-preparedness

There are also many non-government disaster response organizations that now use social media to aid in support efforts.  Christian Disaster Response is one example of a disaster response organization that is doing just this.

volunteer.jpg

Whether it is an advocacy group, an environmentally conscious startup, or a social media influencer who shares information about sweatshop free clothing, social media gives us the opportunity to express ourselves and better the world.  But as it is with most things you will also find some who will use it for inappropriate or even nefarious reasons.

Social Media: The Bad and the Ugly

We’ve all heard the stories right?  A disgruntled person posts something about someone on social media thus causing this person to lose their job.  Or, worse yet, one or more people start attacking someone to the point where this person commits suicide. Social media can offer a lot of anonymity.  Which means people will say and do things on these platforms they would never say or do in person. This is both maliciously and purposely intended to cause harm and also a very cowardly act.  Most social media platforms do a fair job at screening these individuals. And they usually end up getting banned and in some cases have legal action taken against them.

In order to combat against this we need to have accountability.  Heidi Cohen lists 10 ways this could be achieved:

  1. Know that your audience consists of real people with broader, more diverse backgrounds than you can imagine. Each individual brings a unique perspective that you might not have considered previously. At a minimum, they deserve your respect for giving you their attention.

  2. Don’t react in haste. In online interactions, people tend to disassociate themselves from the person to whom they’re communicating. We don’t think about the person at the other end when we talk with our fingertips. As a result, people often express opinions that they wouldn’t on the phone or in person. Count to ten to give yourself space to think before you respond, especially when your feelings are raw.

  3. Appreciate that online actions are permanent and can’t be reversed. There is no Undo action for a sent message. Moreover, the Internet never forgets. Any message sent can come back to haunt its sender, usually when it’s least desired.

  4. Understand the context of interactions and content presented. Don’t respond to partial messages. Don’t let your feelings rule. Put the information in perspective and be sure you understand it before responding.

  5. Don’t judge an idea’s quality by the syntax and grammar in which it’s expressed. With a broad audience, the people with whom you engage may not be native speakers of your language or have similar levels of education. Don’t let this detract you from the core of what they’re trying to communicate.

  6. Consider what you’d say face-to-face or in a live group. Don’t blindly follow the group. As your mother taught you, show a level of civility and an understanding for where others may be coming from. Remember you haven’t walked in their shoes.

  7. Don’t spread gossip and hearsay in your quest for your fifteen seconds of fame. Make a positive contribution to the public discourse.

  8. Check your facts before you contribute. Your audience knows more than you do and will call you out for factual errors. Wikipedia is an example of the combined intelligence of the mass. While one person may not be an expert on everything, together they’re very smart with lots of fact checkers who aren’t afraid to correct you.

  9. Stay on point with your contributions. Social media is a conversation, not a lecture. Leave space for others to broaden the discussion and make it richer. Remember it’s a conversation held in a public forum. Be polite and play well with others.

  10. Don’t be self-centered. Don’t bore others with your me-me-me focus and/or promotion overload. It’s the fastest way to clear a forum.  The sweetest thing a person can hear is their name and your sincere interest in them.

In Conclusion...

No one can predict the future of social media but with the ever increasing digital world we live in it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.  There can be a real polarization in how social media is used. For good, can be really good...for bad, can be really bad. I’m hoping that as more social media platforms implement ways to keep its users accountable we will see much less of the bad and much more of the good.

Why Helping Others is So Important

A message from Doug Worner, Partner at Conscious Collaborative.

Whether it is volunteering to help the homeless, attending a local community improvement project, or simply looking for opportunities to help others during your daily activities, research has shown this comes with many benefits.  Helpguide.org lists four major benefits:

  1. Volunteering connects you to others

  2. Volunteering is good for your mind and body

  3. Volunteering can advance your career

  4. Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life

Our Choice Matters

I once heard someone say that the value of our lives is not held in the abundance of his or her possessions. So many today are moving to downsize, minimize, and live a more simplistic life. In a day where it is so easy to get caught up in filling up our day, with busy schedules and lots of things to do, no wonder so many people have little time to volunteer. But if we would find ways to clear up our schedules to get out and volunteer, research shows us that the benefits are worth it.  Should we work the extra hours this week, because we want to purchase some new tech gadget? Or, do we decide to use those hours to help out others instead? I postulate that in doing the latter we would end up with more fulfillment and joy in our lives.

How Do We Value What's Important?

What is more important -- investment in ourselves or investment in others?

give_others_conscious_collaborative

Each of us has to answer this question individually.  How we answer this question will, many times, determine our level of volunteering.  In a culture that breeds self-indulgence and self-focus, it quickly becomes easy to slip into a false belief that we come first, over everyone else. It can be easy to forget that, if you are privileged enough to live in a first world country, you have things so much better than most of the rest of the world. Even the poorest of those in a first world country live better than most in third world countries. So, we have to consider where we should invest our time and energy.

Now What?

For those who have never volunteered, have been too busy, or haven’t had a desire to volunteer, I challenge you with this…

All of us have passions, and if we look at those passions, we probably could find one of them that would fit somehow into a volunteer role.  Take some time to think what that might be. Then, look for an opportunity where you could use this passion when volunteering. To truly help others, make an effort to try volunteering in this area, or with this organization, for at least 30 days. At the end of 30 days reevaluate how you feel about your volunteering and how it has affected you personally. Based on research, many of us would likely find ourselves in a much better situation than where we were before.  

I close this article with an inspiring quote from Martin Luther King Jr., which underscores serving as motivation for all of us.

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
— MLK

Going Green in 412: Something for Everyone

It’s never been more important to go green, and the more that you understand about what you can do to join the movement, the easier it is to transition to a cleaner lifestyle.

But, getting started can be half the battle. Thankfully, all around Pittsburgh there are about a hundred and one organizations and services to help you navigate and manage an eco-friendly lifestyle. In this article, we highlight some organizations that help Pittsburghers “go green.” This summer you can take advantage of what the Steel City has to offer.

Ride Your Bike in the ‘Burgh

bike_pittsnurgh

Looking for an easier, faster way to get around the city? Sometimes, your feet can only take you so far, and that’s where BikePGH comes in. This growing organization provides information about cycling safety, news, and community information. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, consider joining their community of animated cyclists, weekend warriors, and leisure riders.

Reuse and Revamp Your Style

For those of you who are looking for a little more style in your apartment or in your wardrobe, check out these businesses that reuse materials and clothing, right here in the city. Not only are these places fun to explore, but they are fun for environment too!

Construction Junction is a favorite destination for locals looking to add flair to their bungalow, or, more likely, their rowhouse. This summer, you can make your kitchen even cooler, without buying brand new appliances and decor. Picture a huge warehouse full of everything you could ever want. From recycled doors, to granite countertops and fireplaces, Construction Junction is the first nonprofit in Western Pennsylvania that’s retail based. Someone’s trash is always someone else’s treasure.

goodwill

If you need some new shorts or a pair of shades this season, we suggest avoiding the temptation to buy all new products. Instead, check out Avalon Exchange, Buffalo Exchange, Thriftique, and/or Goodwill. These stores are filled with unique finds, plenty of trendy clothes, and you can buy previously used clothes and accessories, keeping them out of landfills and in your closet.

Have a Green Thumb?

gardening_pittsburgh

Want to become an advocate for urban gardens, farm to table school lunches, understand and protect soil quality in urban environments, and/or invest time in a great organization that holds the city and its residents to a higher, greener stander? Check out all the events that Grow Pittsburgh has planned this summer and into the fall. We like this organization because their staff members and advocates AND teachers.

Join the Movement

Pennsylvania Resources Council is always searching for ways to help focus green energy all across the city. For those community members that want to get involved in a hands-on way, join the Council’s recycling movement by handing out bins to locals. It’s a great way to get everyone involved and to continue to flex your green muscles.

Whatever you’re into, whether it’s more of a hands-on approach to keeping Pittsburgh a little greener, or if you prefer to work side-by-side with volunteers and organizers that strive to keep Pittsburgh moving forward, there’s more going on than ever before. From locals wanting to revamp their homes with reused materials, to making sure that our urban areas have more green and less concrete, there are a million ways to get involved. For more information on green events going on near you, or if you just want to know how and where to become a part of the sustainability and green movements overthrowing the our city, check out local calendars or look up the organizations listed above to get started!

If you would like to collaborate with our team on a marketing project, local initiative, or just want to grab a cup of coffee with one of our team members, check out our services and contact us TODAY.

Spotlight on Pittsburgh Cares: Resources, Community Engagement, and More

Pittsburgh just got voted the number one city for young people to live in. With its livability, strong character, and it’s many job opportunities, it’s no surprise that our lovely Steel City has become a sought after metropolis. However, nothing comes without hard work and people in are city are at the top of their game.

The ‘Burgh has always been one of those cities with an evolving, strong sense of community. No matter what neighborhood you stroll through, there’s always a distinct flavor and plenty of long-time and startup businesses. The pride that many locals have for Pittsburgh and the changes that the city has seen has fueled a continual push forward to make changes and raise awareness about to little things that would make Pittsburgh even greater.

If you’re interested in keeping Pittsburgh at its best, check out one of our favorite, local organizations, Pittsburgh Cares. While there are handfuls of organizations that help keep the city shining and growing, this 501 (c)3, founded in 1992, is doing a really killer job.

Who are they, and why should you become involved? SO glad you asked.

 Give Back in a Real Way

Pittsburgh Cares makes helping the community easy. They believe in a hands-on approach, where their volunteers are out in the community, seriously impacting their city and the people in it. This organization works with businesses and individuals who want to be more involved in helping others and making a difference. As a facilitator of volunteerism, Pittsburgh Cares is a fairly original organizational model.

pittsburgh_cares

Volunteering Made Easy

While there are always an overwhelming number of causes and philanthropic opportunities to choose from, it’s always a little easier to pick a volunteer job that you’re really interested in when you have options to choose from. That’s what their Opportunity Search and Opportunity Calendar are for! Whatever it is that you’re looking for, Pittsburgh Cares will make sure that you find a volunteer opportunity that fits you. If you have a busy schedule but are still looking to give back to the community in a real way, you can match dates with the free time that you have. Everyone wins!

 Nobody Gets Left Out

 However old or young you are, you can still make a difference. With two different programs, ranging from the very young to those with a little more life experience, Pittsburgh Cares makes sure that every single volunteer is included. Youth Engaged Services or Yes help connect volunteers, as young as five years old, to leadership opportunities and community engagement events. They also offer a Senior or Retired Volunteer Program that pairs volunteers with more developed leadership skills to programs and projects where they will meet like-minded peers.

volunteer_pittsburgh_412

Pittsburgh Cares, like so many other inspiring businesses and organizations in and around the 412 have been doing an incredible job at maintaining and giving back to the city that we all love so much. With its strong community engagement, it’s inclusiveness, and its overall assistance in matching volunteers, Pittsburgh Cares is a truly amazing nonprofit that we admire. 

If you would like to collaborate with our team on a marketing project, local initiative, or just want to grab a cup of coffee with one of our team members, check out our services and contact us TODAY.

How You (Pittsburghers) Can Volunteer This Summer

Volunteering Is An Experience

Why do we love volunteerism? It’s a wonderful way to gain new skills and experiences that can help you grow within and learn more about your micro- and macro-community. There are always new and creative ways for people just like you (yes, you!) to donate your time. By doing so, you can positively impact others, amp-up your resume, and recharge your overall outlook on life. What’s even more exciting about volunteerism? You can spend time volunteering with your friends, co-workers, and/or family, so you are not only building new relationships with organizations in need, you are potentially sharing quality time with familiar individuals in your life.

If you’re looking to volunteer this summer, here are a few ideas that you can consider,

7 Ways YOU Can Volunteer

1. Summer Camp

Make a difference and make some memories. With this type of volunteering, whether you are a camp counselor or managing art activities, you will probably end up with a story or two. There are camps all around the U.S., and if you have wanderlust, you can check out camps outside of the States.

2. Get Your Guide On (zoo, museum, art galleries)

Being a tour guide gives you the opportunity to show what you know, share stories, give mini-lessons, and/or learn a bit yourself. When you are a guide you meet people enthusiastic about what you’re sharing, and you get to inspire strangers to want to learn more about the topics you are teaching. Think about all of the “dad jokes” you can practice on strangers!

3. Animal Shelter

When you volunteer at an animal shelter, petting bunnies and playing with puppies may not be the only thing you get to do! You’re also alleviating some of the pressure off of the often over-stretched shelter workers, giving them more time to focus on helping to promote all the animals that are up for adoption. Pittsburgh has plenty of animal shelters. If you’re interested, you can start with Humane Animal Rescue or Animal Friends.

animal_shelter_pittsburgh

4. Community Gardening

If you have a green thumb, or would like to learn how to grow tomatoes, volunteering at your local community garden might be just right for you. These are wonderful spaces shared by community members who are working to make gardening more sustainable, while learning new strategies for growing plants. Once you figure out the rhythm of gardening (thank you, Alyssa) you get to experience a true feeling of accomplishment and triumph. Plus, you can gaze upon the beautiful plants that you helped to grow and say, “we did that.” All this while impacting your community in a positive, environmental way. Interested in Pittsburgh’s community gardens? Check out Grow Pittsburgh or The Pittsburgh Project.

5. Lifeguard Duty

Being a lifeguard isn’t for everyone. This type of volunteering involves plenty of training on CPR, signs to watch out for heat exhaustion, and more. As a lifeguard you carry a huge responsibility for protecting others. That being said, if that is something you know would play to your personal strengths, it’s a fantastic way to spend your summer. One necessary trait for any lifeguard is the ability to communicate clearly and react fast. Allegheny County hires lifeguards, if this sounds like a good fit for you.

6. Fire Station

Being a volunteer firefighter includes safety training, hours of hands-on learning, and emergency response scenarios. Along with learning how to prevent fires, you’re taught how to provide first aid and respond to other emergencies. Pittsburghers can reach out to Edgewood Volunteer Fire Department for opportunities.

firefighter_volunteer_pittsburgh

7. Thrift Store Volunteer

Volunteering at a thrift store can give you retail experience, which has its own benefits. Learning how to manage an array of eccentric customers will help you learn how to interact and communicate effectively with people from all walks of life. Not only will you be learning useful skills, you can also get first dibs on unique-thrift finds. Thriftique is a hip new thrift store in Lawrenceville that looks for volunteers throughout the year!

 

Additional Volunteerism IDEAS

senior_care_center

In case none of the above volunteer ideas interest you, here are a few more to consider:

  • Senior Centers
  • Hospital
  • Adopt a Block

Think Carefully Before Volunteering

Although you may want to support a cause you’re passionate about, be sure to consider your skills as well as you weaknesses. Putting yourself in an environment that maybe too stressful for you may cause more harm than good for yourself and others. Before dedicating yourself to a volunteer position, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have prior obligations that require more time and attention?
  • Does this volunteer opportunity provide challenges that I will be able to handle?
  • What do I want to gain from this experience?

Remember, your time is always worth something.

Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering your time as a family creates an early habit to help others in need. More than that, it can boost social skills and keeps you moving and active. Doing something that you already have some interest in also increases the chance that you make new friends or strengthen the friendships you already have. Even if its as simple as tutoring at a local community center, every act of volunteering you do can make an impact.


Volunteering your time is a way that you can connect with and better your community. At Conscious Collaborative, we believe that if everyone volunteered a little of their time to organizations in need or causes worth pursuing, the world would be a much happier and healthier place. If you’d like to learn more about how we implement our core values into our work, please check out our website.

Email Marketing, Why You Shouldn’t Forget It

There was once a time when sending a simple thank-you card to your donors or customers was a strong way to show your appreciation for their support and to strengthen their loyalty to your organization’s cause. It was a big, personal gesture, something to stick on the fridge and keep forever. But now, the game has changed, and if your organization has “missed the boat” you might want to rethink how you’re approaching your communication.

email_marketing_pittsburgh

In the world of branding, marketing, and building cause-oriented awareness, there are a million tools to use, but what’s the one tool that everyone forgets to mention? Email marketing. And here’s how it can help your organization.

Whether you’re trying to promote an upcoming fundraiser, generate turn out for an event, or even raise awareness of your brand, email marketing is key. While not as quick and easy as some of the other digital tools out there, emails can still make-or-break the overall success of your organization.

Show the Love

First, consider that email marketing is making a statement all by itself. Instead of sending a blast on social media, where people may or may not stop scrolling to see your post, email promotion can be a more tailored approach to reaching your supporters. Sometimes it’s less about what you say and is more about how you say it. With email marketing, you can segment your clients into different groups to create even more personalized and specific content for your readers. By embedding video, web page links, and more, you can create a brand experience that gives readers insights into your organization’s culture.

Building relationships with customers is the most important component to success and longevity, regardless of what business or cause your organization supports. In the case of networking, email blasts can actually help your business connect with new clients, or  you can even reconnect with clients and programs that have partnered with your organization in the past.

Words Mean A Lot

With a quick email blast or newsletter, your organization has the ability to make sure that your client base is “in the know.”  In other words, it’s not just a picture that pops up and then vanishes within the next refresh. Emails can say SO MUCH MORE. You can address each customer individually and send a sign off. With the ability to send mass amounts of highly-personalized emails to clients, you can gain more loyalty from your current supporters and encourage them to share your information with others through digital mediums, which are fast and free!

email_marketing_pittsburgh_message


It Doesn’t Have to Feel Needy

When sending an email, readers know that the organization or individual who crafted the email took the time to make sure that they are showing appreciation for their supporters. The sense of solidarity that email marketing can create is strong, so, although readers may know that a particular email has likely been sent to numerous people, that doesn’t change the intention. As a nonprofit or charity organization, asking for volunteers and donations directly within your emails can come across much less “needy” than it would in a piece of paper mail. Studies have shown that email marketing can create such a strong sense of connection among consumers and supporters that when they know that other people on an email list are reading the same calls-for-action at the same time, they are more likely to react to that call.

Overall, email marketing requires a little more work that most social media marketing strategies, but the strength that you can build behind a well-planned email campaign can be significant and is well worth the effort. At Conscious Collaborative, our writers and designers work together to create email campaigns that are creative and impactful. Learn more about all of our services and get in touch with our team today!


 

Building Communities: What's It All About?

What is Community?

At Conscious Collaborative, our community includes those individuals and organizations who are willing to give a helping hand, seek collaboration, support each other,  and show compassion - in a concrete way - on a daily basis. Participating in a community can bring a kind of acceptance that nearly every individual and business desires. Unfortunately, we have seen how our continually tech-centered and fast-moving world has facilitated more and more of what Aristotle calls “relationships of utility,” so-called “connections” estranged from feelings of mutual respect and a shared sense of contributing some greater good to society.

community_development

Stay Active in YOUR Community

Being active in your community creates something tangible from which everyone can benefit. Communities provide resources and opportunities for both organizations and individuals to talk, build, and collaborate in a shared space and with a shared goal, or set of goals.  Expression of thoughts, innovative ideas, and feelings is essential to functioning in a meaningful way within your society. One of the easiest ways to be a part of your community is to find your local community centers, think tanks, and/or creative centers and participate in local events.

Pittsburgh Community Organizations

Pittsburgh is a city that encourages restoration and understanding among community members. Our culturally-rich and diverse home harbors many organizations and community members who take the notion of “community building” seriously.

pittsburgh.JPG

Here are a few Pittsburgh organizations that have dedicated themselves to facilitating community relationship building:

A Pittsburgh charitable organization, Union Project, believes in bringing “... diverse people together and restoring community.” You can check out their community calendar to see what events they are facilitating on a daily basis. There are a number of programs and events for adults and children that have been designed to incorporate art and creativity within the community.

Understanding that we all inhabit a shared planet and environment is a stepping stone towards paying attention to what we are doing to it. The Frick Environmental Center gives people the chance to take that step. They encourage locals to explore and understand Pittsburgh's natural settings by becoming “one with nature,” so to speak. Demonstrating proper trash and compost disposal, recycling habits, as well as how to live in a way that is more sustainable for the Earth, the Frick Environmental Center teaches environmentally-aware adults to be even more conscientious in their own homes and communities. Additionally, the Center’s “Nature School” provides thoughtful programming for 3-5 year olds, as well as older students, all of whom can benefit from establishing an early connection with nature.

community

Offering multiple locations, and with separate events at each location, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh makes it easy to attend a free yoga class in East Liberty, take Japanese lessons at the main branch in Oakland, or enjoy themed events like “Wacky Wednesdays” in Brookline. And this is just a minute sampling of what’s available. Each week, you can expect some interesting event unfolding at your local library. Do yourself a favor and try out a class or activity: a tremendous opportunity to connect with other local residents, advance your education, or simply broaden your perspective on the world. (Fun fact: if you look at all of the Carnegie Library locations on a map, they form the shape of a heart).

Community Comes Down to YOU

You may not realize it, but there are multiple communities that you can connect with every day. Whether it’s your local neighborhood, your family, your friends, common interest groups, work, etc.

Being a diligent member of your community isn’t just for the youngsters. It’s important for people of all ages to engage with their community. A simple thing such as going to a few local events a month can make a huge difference. It can give an individual or family an increased sense of belonging and a heightened awareness of their interconnectedness with other residents of their community.
At Conscious Collaborative, we believe that a willing person never stops striving to gain not just information, but wisdom and understanding for the people and things surrounding them. If you want to be more active in your community, or learn about more Pittsburgh nonprofits, please check out our recent  blog on sustainability. And, if you like the way we think and approach our own work, please contact us to discuss a potential collaboration.

Develop and Sustain Lasting Relationships with Your Audience

What is the key to a successful organization? People. For any type of organization, reaching and maintaining a strong connection with its audience is crucial. There are several obvious tools you can use to measure the success of your company, its products and services. You can monitor your website numbers to see if they’re on the rise, or obsessively visit your social media profiles hundreds of times a day to ensure that you are engaging with your customer base digitally. But do these actions actually impact your target audience? And, more importantly, are you and your organization providing your existing and potential followers with the tools, resources, and care that they deserve?

audience_relationships_business

In order to build a lasting relationship between your organization and potential clients, you must prioritize one element in your marketing: the connection that you establish and maintain with your clients. Whether it’s making sure that you personalize an email or showing appreciation for a person’s continued patronage, the end goals should always be the same: providing a unique, tailored service that attends to all of the client’s needs and showing the human side of your organization. Creating a customer-centric organization is your aim, and you can do that in a subtle, non-patronizing way by showing your organization’s dedication to the small details and gestures that prove your personal investment in each client.

Understanding How to Engage with Your Clients

Knowing how to engage in a meaningful way requires more than just customer service, and more than just phone calls and tracking data. What it’s really about is creating intelligent and individualized client interaction. To understand your audience’s wants, you also have to understand the best ways to communicate with them. Each organization should, ideally, possess a unique voice, style, and aesthetic that appeals to (and is compatible with) its target audience. Without deliberately creating and sustaining the voice of your organization, public and private messaging suffers from a lack of consistency.

Recognizing which social platforms or communication tools your audience prefers is another crucial step. For example, if your primary client base is young people between the ages of 20-35, launching an extensive Facebook campaign (to the exclusion of an Instagram one) is an obvious misstep. Whether it’s email, in-person meetings, or hand-written cards, every client is different and deserves a personalized approach.

Long-Term Communication Plans

When choosing the way your organization reaches out to an audience, remember to plan for the future. You need to regularly engage with your audience, but you also need to brainstorm, plan, and set future initiatives in motion. Some of these initiatives should be lasting, long-term strategies that attempt to anticipate your clients’ future desires and needs, whether they’re based on the ongoing development of the company, seasonal changes, or updates in your specific field or industry. Understanding is half the battle, so dedicating some time to anticipating your clients’ needs or interests several months “down the road” can make a measurable difference and make your marketing plan more cohesive.

marketing_plan_communications

Walk In Their Shoes

Lastly, always try to understand your client base by putting yourself in their shoes. It’s easy to feel excited about your own marketing ideas or core organizational aims, but how do they translate to a more objective observer or audience? Sometimes, simply requesting third-party input (a kind of informal focus group) to give you feedback on your efforts, your aesthetic, etc. can make a significant difference.

community_walk_in_shoes

Whatever way you choose to make your organization’s projects and engagement count, remember that there are innumerable “faceless” tools and services available help you engage with your clients. You can crunch numbers, build high-volume sites, and develop what seems like a self-sustaining marketing effort. To believe this, however, is misguided; the thing that can set you apart from other similar or competing organizations is your ability to not only understand your clients, but to engage with them in an approachable, personalized way that synchronizes with their own values and priorities as human beings.

At Conscious Collaborative, this is the strategy and ethos we embrace with every organization and individual client with whom we collaborate. We offer a wide variety of services: digital marketing, website building, mobile app development, public relations and more. Most importantly, we stress the value of building lasting relationships between organizations and their followers, ensuring that we work with people whose causes are just as strong, fair, and meaningful as the values we stand upon.

 

What is Environmentalism?

Environmentalism: A Term That MATTERS

The dictionary definition of environmentalism is “...concern about, and action aimed at protecting the environment.” Environmentalism manifests in the world when an individual or organization generates enough concern about their environment that they feel compelled to take meaningful action. Any person or organization can take steps towards adopting practices that ensure breathable air, clean drinking water, and maintaining natural ecosystems. Of course, as individuals and organizations consolidate their shared investment and interest in a clean environment, they can move from personal or local efforts to large-scale progress  via policy and legislative change. 

environmentalism_pittsburgh_conscious_collaborative

Environmentalism is a term used EVERYWHERE in today’s society, and it’s time that we all take a minute to truly understand what it all means and why it matters.

Responsibility vs. Convenience: Keeping an Eco-Friendly Mind

Environmentalism is often described as a political or social movement.  Some simply describe it as caring for the planet, although it’s a bit more complicated than that. Environmentalism can be broken down into many different principles and nuanced ideologies.

At Conscious Collaborative, we consider human and non-human lives in many decisions that we make on a day-to-day basis. This falls into the ecocentric ideology: one that focuses on the well-being of the Earth as a whole. All beings on this planet we call home evolved from the Earth itself. The organisms that live here continue to live because of the nutrients naturally produced by it. This side of environmentalism believes that all of the living things here (sentient or otherwise) are interconnected because of our total and unquestionable dependency on our planet. Let’s face it, humanity is many lifetimes away from living on hunks of rock floating in space. Ecocentrism means thinking bigger and more inclusively than simply sustaining human life. More than just protecting the things useful to humans, ecocentrism asks human beings to take part in propelling and ensuring the sustenance of everything around them.

environmentalism_sustainability

In contrast, there is anthropocentrism, or the human-centered ideology operating under the umbrella that is environmentalism. This is the belief that we should take care of the things from which humans specifically benefit. The anthropocentric outlook emphasizes responsibility to future generations of human beings and whatever benefits their quality of life. Anything beyond that is of secondary concern, to varying degrees. Although this way of thinking has been described as selfish and shallow, objectively it just represents a moral rearrangement or re-prioritization: thinking of our grandchildren’s grandchildren and how we’d want our future family members to live; it represents a species-center approach.

Things You Can Do to be an Environmentalist (Mostly)

Regardless of where you or your organization might fall in the spectrum of environmentalism, to embrace it, you must take responsible action. What matters is that you’re doing your part to lessen the negative impacts of your particular “carbon footprint.”

recycle_environmentalism_sustainability

There are so many everyday things anyone and everyone can do.

  • Recycle junk mail
  • Upcycle existing “garbage” for a functional purpose (a coffee can as a paintbrush or pen/pencil holder).
  • Turn off or unplug lights or appliances that aren’t being used
  • Switch to  energy-efficient light bulbs
  • Take shorter showers
  • Take up composting or gardening
  • Carpool, cycle, or walk to work or other locations within a reasonable distance.
  • Organize a neighborhood clean up
  • Use natural cleaners instead of chemicals
  • Invest in rechargeable batteries

Environmentalism is just one of the many ways you can take responsibility for what you take in and put out into the world. We at Conscious Collaborative believe that everyone can take simple steps to do their part with integrity and self-awareness. If you’d like to learn more about how we apply our own principles to the work we do, we recommend you check out our website.

Springtime Sustainability: A Glance at Pittsburgh’s Climate

Although Pittsburgh has had some rather peculiar weather as of late, it is indeed springtime. Speaking of sunshine and flowers, I think it’s a good time of the year to highlight the importance of sustainability. This increasingly critical term has become more and more relevant to individuals and organizations. At Conscious Collaborative, we are glad to see that there are so many organizations dedicated to making the world a healthier place, community by community.

Pittsburgh Sustainability Organizations:

Shout-Outs

Since 1998, Sustainable Pittsburgh has been one of those organizations. They assist with communities, businesses, and restaurants by helping them to implement sustainable practices. Another way Sustainable Pittsburgh helps out is by providing assessments for individual businesses, identifying the specific ways in which that organization can save money through resource conservation.  But, that’s not all that this organization does to bring sustainability to Western Pennsylvania. Champions for Sustainability, a program launched by Sustainable Pittsburgh, was created around ten years ago to connect with various companies, aiming to further advance the uses of sustainable practices.

clean_energy

Another nonprofit, Grow Pittsburgh was established with the soul purpose of creating opportunities to build community self-sufficiency. Their mission is to teach and endorse neighborhood gardening and efficient use of available resources in the area. Grow Pittsburgh shows how agriculture and sustainability go hand in hand. They provide free pesticides and locally-grown food for people who may not have access to these goods. As the name suggests, Grow Pittsburgh has several community gardens, but if you have a green thumb, they also sell saplings and produce!

Since we’re on the topic of nonprofits, The Green Building Alliance (GBA) is striving to push Western Pennsylvania towards sustainability. With a 20-year plan, they have already made sustainable building practices a new norm for many businesses and organizations in Pennsylvania. The GBA meets with their partners to find specific ways that those partners can be more sustainable. Their goal is to reconstruct older buildings and build anew, with sustainability in mind. Over 1,200 members have joined The Green Building Alliance to advance the way that we build our buildings.

Sustainability in Practice

Along with the clear environmental benefits, there are also indirect ways that sustainability can profit your business. Consider the potential opportunity of an abandoned building. Using the capital that already exists will save time and money, as well as bring beauty and (potentially) more consumers to the surrounding area. Not doing so would be a waste of space, so why not take the chance? Not to mention, if you’re already increasing foot traffic, letting your consumers see you helping and caring about their community would elevate your reputation. A positive reputation can also bring more employees your way, growing your business.

sustainable_buildings

The Green Building Alliance, and other similar organizations, exist for businesses that are looking to find partners in sustainability. You can partner with the GBA and work to make your spaces even more eco-friendly.

There are some actions that you can take right now that can help bring your organization steps closer to being sustainable.

  • Place recycling bins throughout your business
  • Go paperless
  • Consider using refillable ink pens
  • Get your printer cartridges refilled instead of buying new ones
  • Use energy efficient lighting
  • Use renewable energy throughout your workspaces

Sustainability isn’t just a fad that popped up on Facebook that we’ll forget about in a month. It’s a way that everyone on this planet can participate to help repair the damage that has clearly been done. Sustainability is a lifestyle. Not only does it help the planet, but it can bring an entire neighborhood together, helping it thrive. Normalizing this lifestyle is an important stepping stone in ensuring the safety of our Earth as well as ourselves, the human race.

sustainable_future_conscious_collaborative

We at Conscious Collaborative have hopes that, with everyone’s help the future will be brighter and safer for everyone. We continue to support and communicate the importance of protecting and saving our environment, as we collaborate with other organizations that share our values.

If you would like to collaborate with our team on a marketing project, local initiative, or just want to grab a cup of coffee with one of our team members, check out our services and contact us TODAY.
 

Podcasts: What Should You Be Listening To?

Podcasts never offer useful information or ideas for professionals, right? Alas, you are mistaken. While there are a wide range of podcasts intended solely for entertainment, (launched by Bachelor stars and YouTubers alike), there are plenty that can actually help you succeed as a marketer. If you are stuck creating a new marketing campaign or revamping your current strategy, listening to a 30-minute podcast can provide you with new inspiration and get you back on track. If you are looking to dip your toe into the world of podcasts, here are eight of our personal favorites...

marketing_podcasts

5-Minute Marketing: Brian Moran, a marketing guru and co-founder of SamCart, shares daily advice to listeners looking to advance their organization. This podcast is noteworthy because he gives this advice in under 10 minutes, allowing it to fit into any busy schedule. His topics vary from how to be more productive to his advice on ideal hiring techniques.

Favorite Episode? “Why People Aren’t Buying”: This episode jumps into the common question of how to sell more and goes beyond the most common business approaches.

Ctrl Alt Delete: While this podcast is not specifically a marketing podcast, it does delve into a realm of topics that are important to the business world. Emma Gannon, author of Ctrl, Alt, Delete: How I Grew Up and Stayed Sane Online, explores different topics such as the digital world, creativity, feminism, and careers.

Favorite Episode? “Zoella - Talking Internet Fame & Being Your Own Boss”: In this episode, Emma talks with top Influencer Zoe Suggs, better known on the Internet as Zoella. She discusses her career and how she was able to wear multiple hats to create her own brand by the age of 25. This is an inspiring podcast in which listeners are reminded of the value of hard work and encouraged to pursue a career they passionately enjoy.

How I Built This with Guy Raz: In this podcast, Guy Raz interviews the founders of the most successful companies in the world. From a marketer's perspective, learning how these businesses were able to grow to where they are now is inspiring, as it offers a real world example of how everyday people were able to do it.

podcast_marketing

Favorite Episode? “Patagonia- Yvon Chouinard”: In this episode, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard gives listeners a different feel for business. He discusses the ethical side of his corporation beyond just working towards making the largest profit. This is an eye-opening interview in which Chouinard discusses the creation of products and how he was able to learn the ins and outs of operating and managing a large company.

The Goal Digger Podcast: Host Jenna Kutcher is an expert online marketer and shares advice for anybody looking to accomplish their goals. She explores topics related to productivity and how to manage social media properly.

Favorite Episode? “5 Ways to Boost Productivity Working from Home”: In this quick bonus episode, Jenna discusses simple tips to make the most of your time while working at home. She shares real-life examples of how she was able to succeed while running her business from the comfort of her own home and tells her story in a down-to-Earth, relatable way.

Copyblogger FM: Sonia Simone, who is a founding partner of Copyblogger Media, talks about all issues related to content marketing. She meets with fellow experts and analyzes the latest trends that could change up your current techniques.

marketing_pittsburgh_conscious_collaborative

Favorite Episode? “Storytelling for Modern Content Marketing”: In this episode, host Sonia Simone interviews Shane Snow and Joe Lazauskas of Contently, creators of an online tool that helps you generate amazing stories and content for organizations. For a marketer looking to create great content, this podcast discusses the power of good storytelling and how to use it to achieve your business’ aims.

The Science of Social Media: This podcast shares details about every aspect of social media, as well as other related marketing tips that will help you succeed. This podcast is ideal for someone trying to learn the ins and outs of different social media trends and works to make it useful for every industry.

Favorite Episode? “Habits of Successful Marketers, the Science of Confidence in Leadership, Why We’re Always Learning & More”: If you’ve ever wanted to know more about what makes somebody successful, this is the episode for you. It is interesting to know what qualities can set someone apart as a marketer and what you can work on to enhance your career.

Marketing Smarts from MarketingProfs: This podcast looks to provide real-life examples and advice for working professionals. The hosts dive into the world of business from a marketing perspective and look at different issues like how to create quality content and establish a lasting presence on social media networks.

Favorite Episode? “Humor in Marketing- Marketoonist Tom Fishburne”: This episode explores the power of comedy in marketing, a quality often overlooked. It also makes the listener reconsider cartoons and how they can potentially contribute to an organization’s next marketing campaign.

Duct Tape Marketing: John Jantsch, a speaker, author, and marketing consultant, interviews other professionals to discuss issues related to the business world. Each interview takes on a new perspective and shares factual stories and secrets that have worked for each guest.

Favorite Episode?  “Be a Better Marketer by Finding Out What People Actually Want”: On this episode, guest Ryan Levesque, marketing expert and author of Ask, answers vital questions regarding how a marketer can locate their target market is and how to analyze them to determine what they want on an ongoing basis.

If you’re looking to revamp your organization’s marketing strategies, Conscious Collaborative is here to help. We offer a full range of services, from social media management to website design. Contact us TODAY!

Setting Goals & Achieving Them

At the heart of any marketing campaign is the desire for one of the following outcomes: increased awareness, conversions, or engagement. For any organization, targeting a specific objective is far more practical than pursuing some vague, nebulous idea of what you would like to achieve. Setting a specific objective means being able to measure your success better, and allows you to clarify what is the most effective solution to drive sales.

For a nonprofit organization, creating a clear goal can help you distinguish what to target based on two important factors: time and money. Luckily, for every marketer out there, the digital world offers plenty of solutions for any situation. In this article, we will discuss each goal - awareness, conversions, and engagement - and our recommended methods to achieve them.

conscious_collaborative_marketing_agency

Awareness: Brand awareness is the amount your organization is recognized and whether or not customers know of your products. For example, if somebody is looking into buying a cereal and immediately thinks of Kellogg’s, that means that Kellogg’s has successfully established strong brand awareness. Two important times to focus on brand awareness are at the founding of your organization, and during a new product launch. When done effectively, concentrating on brand awareness can bring your brand to the top of someone’s mind when thinking about a certain product or service.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO can improve your website’s visibility through search engines. Some helpful tips to improve your websites searchability include optimizing your website in the following ways:

  • Words: include keywords that a consumer may search for that relate to your organization
  • Titles of pages: search engines are better prepared to find relevant websites, if pages are named properly and correspond to what your organization is offering
  • Links between websites: establishes credibility for your site
  • Words in links: gives a search engine a brief description of what that link offers consumers
  • Reputation: create original content

After completing the checklist above, a customer looking for something that relates to your organization should be able to stumble across your site. For instance, if you are a nonprofit in Pittsburgh that focuses on supplying children with educational supplies, you could include the following details:

  • Phrases and words that talk about schooling, nonprofits, and the specific location
  • Titles including education and nonprofit
  • Link(s) to reputable schools that you support and articles about your organization
  • Named links that correspond or relate to education and schooling
  • Compelling content about your brand that isn’t duplicated on other websites
marketing_conversions

Conversions: Conversion is the general term for action from a customer.  An example of a conversion could be the sale of a specific product, or even simply signing up to receive newsletters. If your organization is looking to drive a certain conversion, formulating a call-to-action strategy is the best method. From a digital standpoint, this can be done through online advertisements or even email marketing.

Digital Advertisements: Digital advertisements can be implemented on any social media network and through search engines. To find more information for a specific platform’s advertising options, check out Conscious Collaborative’s Social Media Series, where we discuss Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram. Digital advertisements offer your organization the benefit of selecting a landing page that will bring your customer to the exact online “starting point” you prefer, so they are primed to complete whatever conversion you would like.

Email Marketing: Email marketing is another tool that can drive a certain action. If you are able to deliver your message clearly to consumers, they are more likely to follow through on that specific action. While email marketing is a little trickier than the standard digital advertisements, it can be more effective because consumers are already (in most cases) familiar with your organization and more interested in what you have to offer.

Engagement: A brand’s engagement measures the degree to which customers are interacting with your organization. This can be the number of times your brand is mentioned on a social media account such as Twitter, or the number of likes you’ve gathered on your latest Instagram picture. Increasing engagement creates a stronger relationship between you and your customers and should be an important focus point for your brand.

social_influencers.jpeg

Social Media Management: Deploying a social media strategy on each platform is important to utilize all aspects of the website. In our Social Media Series, we discuss different marketing opportunities available on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram. Our general advice is to create captivating content on each site to ensure that your viewers would like to share your posts and updates with friends. Not only does this allow your post to be shared with more people from most social media algorithms, but it motivates people to look into your organization more generally - to see the products or services you offer.

If you’re looking to start engaging with social media influencers, or maybe you’re not sure what “influencers” even are, check out last month’s article, “The Power of Influencers.”

Social Media Mayhem: Instagram 101

conscious_collaborative_Instagram.jpg

Instagram is the final network we will be covering in our social media series. We will explore different aspects of this platform, including audience demographics, different advertising options, and various engagement tools. Instagram has gained a significant following from its start in 2010 and could take your marketing campaign to the next level.

Audience: As of September 2017, Instagram had 800 million monthly active users and, even more impressive, 500 million daily active users. Below is a breakdown of the users you will find present on the platform.

  • 59% of online 18-29 year olds
  • 33% of online 30-49 year olds
  • 18% of online 50-64 year olds
  • 8% of online 65 and older
  • 38% of online females
  • 26% of online males

 As shown by the statistics above, Instagram hosts a younger audience, the majority of whom are 18 to 29 year olds. If your brand is targeting a younger demographic, Instagram is an effective way to reach them, especially with the high rate of daily usage. The split between female and males present is the most drastic when compared to the other social media platforms analyzed before. This division is something to consider when planning what content to post.  

Advertisement Opportunities: If you feel confident that Instagram fits the demographic you would like to target, the next step is to explore the different advertising options that are available. Instagram is owned by Facebook, so the opportunities are similar, as explained in the Facebook 101 post. Below is a breakdown of the ads your organization can run on this platform.

  • Photo Ads: Single Image Ad
  • Video Ads: Single Video Ad with video or gif
  • Carousel Ads: Multiple image/ video ads allows user to scroll through
  • Stories Ads: Offers single image/ single video ad, up to 15 seconds long

To create your campaign, you will first select your objective. There are a variety of options for your brand to focus on, such as awareness, consideration, and conversion. Within each category are additional options - areas of focus for your brand to localize its advertising efforts. This approach offers your company a targeted marketing approach and a way to measure the effectiveness of the advertisement based on what you would like to achieve.

instagram.jpg

After choosing your advertising objective(s), the next step is to select your target market. Instagram offers businesses the opportunity to customize their target market based on location, age, and even interests or behaviors. The final step is entering your budget, which will impact the rate at which the advertisement is shown, depending on your selected objective.

Organizations also have the opportunity to contact influencers directly. This was previously mentioned in the Youtube 101 post, as there is a similar group active on Instagram. Influencers are individuals such as David Dobrik (@daviddobrik), who have over 4.5 million followers and thus a very large reach. Researching the influencer’s audience is essential before you reach out for a collaboration, as it is important to find out who your target market would be following.

Engagement: Your presence on Instagram is similar to Facebook; there is a science to what appears in users’ feeds. The actual algorithm is too complex to articulate here, but here are some tips to help your post reach your intended audience.

  1. Use a business account: To do this, you simply link your Facebook business page to your Instagram account. This also allows your organization to view and analyze statistics.

  2. Limit the spam: This includes avoiding an overwhelming amount of hashtags (for future reference, it is best to have no more than five). It’ also ideal to use a variety of hashtags for each post, instead of repeating.

  3. Engage: Use the Instagram story feature and respond back to comments on your posts

Another Instagram feature is Instagram Live, which allows you to connect with users in real time. Similar to Facebook Live, this feature allows your organization to show a behind-the-scenes view of your organization and respond back to viewers instantly. To make the most of your Instagram Live event, it is important to give viewers an advanced notice so they will be prepared to view. It is also important to have a plan or script of what you will say to avoid any drawn out pauses or awkward moments.

An Instagram Story is an informal way to update followers on new promotions and current events happening with your company. Once posted, it only remains available to followers for 24 hours and then expires and cannot be seen. Instagram Stor[ies] are a great way to create a stronger brand identity, allowing you to show more than just products. Instagram offers users the option to save a specific story for a future “revisit.” This feature is helpful if you post about a current promotion going on that you would like followers to come back to and, ideally, follow to an external link for the promotion, event, or purchase.

The last engagement strategy worth mentioning is the use of Instagram contests. This is a way to encourage user engagement on your account. For example, if you want to increase your number of followers, you can make a contest for one of your products where users must like your photo and follow your account to enter.

We're wrapping up our "Social Media Mayhem" series, but if you have any other questions regarding social media and how to use it effectively, please contact us at Conscious Collaborative. Our team can help you build a comprehensive strategy for advertising on one or all of the networks mentioned in our blog series, ensuring that you reach and impress your target audience.

The Power of Influencers

We live in an age in which celebrities and trend-setters aren’t just the stars featured on the big screen; they’re also the ones making and posting DIY videos from home. The easily incorporated digital world allows everyday people to put themselves and their thoughts out there for everybody to see, and by doing so, these individuals are able to gain popularity and a significant social following. The term for this type of person is “influencer.” Influencers have the ability to reach a large number of individuals, and they can potentially influence their viewers’ purchasing decisions. This type of word-of-mouth marketing has become incredibly powerful, and modern marketers now seek to engage with influencers in their market, which can lead to some serious consumer love.

social_media_influencer.jpeg

There are steps to consider if your organization is looking for the right influencer to represent your brand.

What have they done so far?

If your organization is questioning whether or not to engage with social media influencers, here are just a few statistics to help you make up your mind:

  • 70% of millennial customers make buying decisions based on their peers’ recommendations.
  • Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Youtube, report that 19% and 18% of customer buying decisions are based on their content.
  • 60% of customers have been influenced based on a social media post or review.
  • 49% of customers rely on recommendations by influencers when buying a product.

Clearly, modern influencers can make a major difference in a consumer’s buying process, since most individuals look to someone else for advice before entering their credit card numbers. There is a level of trust that followers have for the influencers that they choose to watch, because consumers see into their everyday lives, which makes influencers more relatable.

Who will represent your brand?

Before you begin researching influencers, it is important to first identify specific brand characteristics that are important to your organization's identity. A good place to start is to create a list of values and qualities that you feel represent your brand, as well as a list of characteristics that fit the target market you aim to attract. This list should share characteristics with whomever is associated with your company.

When looking to find an appropriate influencer, it is important to analyze that individual’s relevancy and social reach. Relevancy corresponds directly to the list of “matching” characteristics between you and the influencer, while reach encompasses the influencer’s number of followers and their audience demographics. It is critical to consider both of these factors if your organization wants influencers to be effective. Here are just a few suggested tools to make this process easier:

  • Right Relevance Pro: Find an influencer by searching any keyword relevant to your organization and ranks them based on follower engagement
  • Insightpool: Find top influencers based on characteristics and conversations
  • Hootsuite: Monitor conversations in your industry to find what is trending and who/what is relevant

How to create a strategy?

strategy.jpeg

After you have selected an influencer that you would like to work with, the next step is considering how you want to engage with them and their audience. One idea you can try is a sponsorship between that influencer and your organization. This could take the form of an organized Instagram of Facebook post, or you can ask to be mentioned in one of their Facebook, Instagram, or Youtube videos. An example of this type of strategy in action is Ashley Iaconetti’s post with BioClarity, where she gives a description of the benefits of that brand’s products and she describes her personal experiences with their products.

Your organization should also consider setting up an event where you can meet up with your ideal influencer in-person. This can be done in a variety of ways. One example of an organization pulling out the red carpet (so to speak) with an influencer is when Lush invited the well-known influencer, Adelaine Morin, to their headquarters in Vancouver, Canada. Lush shared products and information with this influencer, and she was able to share behind the scenes footage of production, employees, and promotions with her subscribers and followers while she was there. After that trip, Adelaine continued to rave about the organization and its products. By doing this she was able to create a relationship with employees she met and Lush saw an increase in sales. Another type of event to consider is a launch party. When creating her makeup line, Kim Kardashian West invited top makeup influencers to her release party where they were able to try on and learn more about all of her products. Each guest documented their night through Snapchat and other social channels, which gave their followers a look into the new items being launched.

Regardless of what product or services your organization offers, social media influencers can play a key role in driving more traffic to your website! Don't miss the boat with this one.

For more information about how to utilize influencers and increase the effectiveness of your marketing campaign CONTACT US at Conscious Collaborative. We offer a broad range of services, from social media content writing to media relations.




 

Social Media Mayhem: Youtube 101

youtube.png

This week in our social media series, we will be covering Youtube and the benefits of using this platform to attract users to your organization. Youtube is a unique social media platform that thrives off of creators who craft and upload original content to entertain audiences. Much like cable television, subscribers keep up with individuals in a dedicated way; think of subscribers’ loyalty to specific Youtube channels as the online equivalent of keeping up with a favorite reality show or sitcom. This user trend - of regular and deliberate engagement - makes an organization's presence different than on other social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook. To break this down, we will use the same approach as in our past blog posts from our Social Media Mayhem series: analyzing the audience, advertising opportunities, and how to engage with users.

Audience: As mentioned earlier, Youtube can be compared to cable, providing users with endless amounts of ‘shows’ to watch each day. Viewers spend, on average, 40 minutes a day watching Youtube. In fact, Youtube reaches more 18 to 49-year-olds than any cable network in the United States. Youtube currently has 1.5 billion users, which is the second largest social media network, following Facebook. To put this quantity into perspective, 1.5 billion users is roughly 1/3rd of Internet users.

youtube_conscious_collaborative.jpg

The range of users includes:

  • 62% Male/ 38% Female
  • 11% ages 18-24
  • 23% ages 25-34
  • 26% ages 35-44
  • 16% ages 45-54
  • 8% ages 50-64
  • 3% ages 65+

As you can see from the breakdown above, the majority of Youtube users are males ages 25-66. This statistic, however, can be misleading as there are different viewers for each channel on Youtube. For instance, Adelaine Morin is a 20-year-old Youtuber who creates beauty-tip videos and therefore she attracts mostly young females to watching her videos. With that being said, there is hope to find your target market on Youtube by just looking at specific categories of videos. Categories include beauty, fashion, comedy, music, animals, gaming, and many more.

Advertisement Opportunities: Advertising on Youtube is relatively simple as this channel is owned by Google, so it operates as an extension of Google Adwords. The first step involves creating your own channel and a video that will be shown for future advertisements. This video should be brand-related and include a call to action that will allow viewers to explore more of your content. To properly utilize your video campaign, we recommend that you send the viewer to your website or Youtube channel to see additional products or videos about your organization.

After you have created your video, it is important to analyze who you would like to see it. Google Adwords offers a selection of location, demographics, and interests that you can choose from. By selecting the proper audience, you can reach the group of individuals that will respond best to your product. Google Adwords then does the brain work of finding the selected audience and adding your advertisement with a related video.

The final step is setting your budget. Your organization is only charged when the viewer watches 30 seconds or more of your ad or engages with it by clicking the call-to-action overlay, card, or companion banner. Youtube states that on average an organization spends roughly $10 per day for local campaigns, which would be a good starting point if you are new.

youtube_conscious_collaborative2.jpg

Beyond just a video advertisement, there are other ways to get involved on Youtube. Sponsorships are an interesting way to get in contact with creators. If you know that a specific creator has your target market watching, it might be worthwhile to sponsor them directly. When doing so, the Youtuber must declare that the video is a paid product placement/endorsement, but that has little effect on the viewer. This method allows your product to be viewed in collaboration with the Youtuber, which can increase awareness of your brand.

Engagement: Interacting with your audience on Youtube is different than on any other social media platforms (Twitter or Facebook) because involvement on Youtube should be geared towards entertaining your viewer and capturing an audience's attention. Viewers come to Youtube to keep up with their favorite creator, musician, or even animal. After you have created your channel and videos relevant to your brand, it is important to organize your videos. To do this, you can make playlists for similar videos. For example, Nike has a set of playlists for each campaign they have (Nike Campus, Nike Training, and Nike Breakthrough Stories are an example). This allows viewers to continue watching a category of videos that interest them the most.

Another way to engage with viewers watching your videos is through cards. A card is shown on the right-hand side of your video and invites viewers to explore more about your brand by clicking onto the connected link. This could be a link to your channel, another video, or a home website.

Similar to Facebook and Twitter, it is critical for an organization to react to Youtube comments. Youtube viewers are able to leave comments underneath each video and can even have conversations with others regarding what they have watched. For your organization, it is important to look through and monitor responses to gain instant feedback and gauge the interest your brand is creating.

If you’re looking for a team of professionals who can help your brand create a top-notch YouTube campaign, we’re here for you. We offer digital ad campaign services and social media expertise.

Social Media Mayhem: Twitter 101

This week in our social media series, we discuss Twitter and the opportunities available to your organization while using this platform. We will explore Twitter’s audience characteristics, advertising options, and the ways you can use this platform to boost overall engagement between users and your organization. Whether you need to research your target market, learn how to get involved with advertisements, or revamp interactions with your audience, we will show you how to use this platform to make that happen.

Audience: Currently Twitter has roughly 330 million monthly users, over 67 million of whom reside in the United States. When compared to Facebook, Twitter has a smaller span of age groups using their network. The following statistics show who is present: 

Twitter_Conscious_Collaborative.jpg
  • 18-29 year olds represent 37% of users
  • 30-49 year olds represent 25% of users
  • 50-64 year olds represent 12% of users
  • 65+ represents 10%

If your organization is looking to reach a younger generation, Twitter is a great choice. As you can see, the majority of users are less than 30 years-old, dropping off significantly after 50. Twitter also has an extremely high rate of teens. Specifically, of all 15-17 year old internet users, 42% use Twitter.

Advertising: Advertising on this platform is a fairly simple process. To start, you select your primary marketing goal (e.g. increasing awareness, promoting video views, etc.), which helps Twitter determine what advertising method you will use. Twitter makes the marketing process easy by offering goal-specific methods based on your selection.

Depending on which selection you make, you are then able to determine what content you want to promote from your account, who you want to target, and what budget you want to devote to your campaign. Some forms of advertising include promoted tweets, promoted accounts, or promoted trends.

Twitter campaigns are an effective method as you know exactly who is going to be seeing it based on the target market you enter into your ads. Twitter is able to look at a user’s account and analyze demographic characteristics based on account activity such as who the user follows, likes, and tweets. They are also able to see location, so you are directing your message to someone who is able to access your organization.

Twitter also offers a Promote Mode, which goes one step further than creating individual advertisements. This type of campaign manages your account’s advertisements for an entire month. This option automatically promotes your brand’s tweets and account without forcing you to handle the nuances of each campaign yourself. The last option available through Twitter is  Quick Promote, which allows you to promote an individual tweet by just clicking a button. You simply locate the tweet you would like your target audience to see, select ‘Promote this Tweet,’ and enter the location you would like to reach, selecting your budget, as well.

Engagement: When your organization launches a Twitter account, it’s essential that you create an appropriate @name or username to accurately represent your brand. This is the tag that everyone will see on your account, as well as what they will type when interacting with your profile. The @name you create is permanent, so you must be careful and diligent when choosing one for your brand.

tweeting.jpg

After you’ve created your @name, you must focus on making your page reputable and professional in appearance and content. We recommend the following steps:

  • Include a bio about your organization; in your bio you should include a short description and a link where users can find your organization online
  • Insert a profile picture to represent your brand; Twitter recommends using a photo with the following dimensions: 400 x 400 pixels
  • Create an attractive header; this should be updated as it is important to keep this synchronized with current products, promotions, etc.
  • Follow related accounts

Once you’ve completed the following steps, you can begin to tweet! Twitter allows you to embed images and videos into your 280 character tweets, so it is important to vary your posts, using some just text and others with gifs, images, and videos. Bear in mind that when you include an image or another visual aspect, viewers are three times more likely to engage with it. This is especially important for brands building awareness around a current product or promotion.

Twitter users are able to like, retweet, and reply to your posts. Twitter Analytics provides your organization with statistics regarding your month-to-month performance, examining activity and interactions, influencers, and content. This is a great tool for discovering what content your audience likes most.

Other Twitter actions that can strengthen your engagement level include the following:

  • Pinning your tweet: Twitter provides you with the opportunity to keep your most important tweet at the top of your personal Twitter feed by “pinning” it. This makes sure that a user will see the post when looking at your account.
  • Conducting Twitter polls: This allows you to ask your followers questions and receive instant feedback. When creating a poll you enter the question as well as four answer options. The poll can remain open for just five minutes or up to 7 days while users provide responses to your questions.

Our last tip regarding Twitter: remember to keep up with your mentions. This function is easily found in the notification tab of your account. Interacting with users is a way to build a more credible account and increase brand loyalty.

At Conscious Collaborative, we love utilizing Twitter for our clients, drawing in new followers and engaging with fans. We offer social media content and services that can help your organization reach new advocates. Check out our services for more information!

Social Media Mayhem: Facebook 101

Welcome to Conscious Collaborative’s social media guide, where over the course of the next 4 weeks we will explore the most popular platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram, and outline their unique qualities as marketing tools. Our team will be highlighting the newest techniques and information about your favorite social channels to help you build a better social strategy and utilize brand new functions available in each of these platforms.

Facebook_marketing_conscious_collaborative.jpg

This week, we are focusing on the ever-popular social channel, Facebook.  How does this social media star continue to market to over 2 billion current active users? To keep our guide organized, we will first quantify Facebook’s audience, explore advertising opportunities within the platform, and then discover how to effectively engage with Facebook users.

Audience: Facebook has a whopping 2.072 billion monthly active users as of January 1, 2018. To put that into perspective, the current population of the United States of America is 325,639,687. This means that Facebook accommodates a user “population” over six times that of the United States. Still, within this incredibly diverse range of users, it is possible to find your target market by using this platform.

Here are some important demographic statistics about current Facebook users to consider:

      53% female / 47% male

      82% of 18-29 year olds use Facebook

      79% of 30-49 year olds use Facebook

      56% of 65 and up use Facebook

While these statistics speak for themselves, think of all the ways that your organization can reach current and new audiences by utilizing Facebook’s features. While other marketing methods may be limited to one specific demographic, Facebook has such a wide array of users; this makes it easy for organizations to broadcast through just one platform to advertise to all potential customers and spread awareness at a much faster  pace.

Another one of Facebook’s cool features is an in-house analytic tool that can give you information about the Facebook users who are connected to your organization’s page, in your Custom Audience, or simply active on Facebook. This tool is called Audience Insights and it aims to give you the information to “create content that resonates and easily find more people like the ones in your current audience.” Beyond just standard demographic information, you are able to learn about the lifestyles of those who are potential customers for your organization; this includes family size and location, as well as the interests and hobbies of those in the network. For an organization creating a digital marketing strategy, this is a fantastic tool to potentially restructure and adapt to make the most of a new or existing campaign.

Advertising opportunities: So how exactly should you use Facebook? It’s a good question, and for companies unfamiliar with advertising on Facebook, you may be confused by the available options. While this is a very brief description of each of the available advertising opportunities, we urge you to read on to find an option that is best suited for your organization. 

The different Facebook advertising formats:

Photo: A picture that you feel represents your brand and will attract Facebook users with a small text caption  

Video: Facebook features in-stream video ads that will play for users and capture their attention

Carousel: Features 10 images or videos within a single ad that offer customers options for where the organization’s landing page will be

Slideshow: Uses a video that incorporates a series of photos and simplifies the creation process

Collection: Focuses on driving conversion for products by simplifying process to browse and learn more about products

Canvas: Similarly to “Collection,” this format focuses on giving customers more information about the product by using full-screen videos and photos to engage viewers

Lead Ads: a basic and more traditional opportunity for customers to engage with an organization through pop-up forms (i.e newsletter subscription or event registration)

Dynamic ads: Ads that appear for people who have already expressed interest in your organization by viewing your website or interacted with your app

Link Ads: This format connects Facebook users to your organization’s most important link(s)

While our list may seem overwhelming, dipping your toes in the world of Facebook ads is worthwhile. Infact, 95.8% of social media marketers worldwide have said that Facebook provides the best ROI (return on investment) of all social platforms.

If you’re thinking of using photo ads on Facebook, keep in mind that there are strict parameters set for the amount of text that can be included in your ad images. While it may seem tempting to include a call to action on your image, which can capture the attention of consumers and instruct them on what you would like them to do,  your images can only be filled with text up to 20%. This allows your ad to run to more individuals while also being the least expensive option compared to including more. This tip works for all ads that contain pictures, even the thumbnail images for videos.

facebook_conscious_collaborative_marketing.jpg

Engagement: The final part of this Facebook puzzle is engaging with users. Facebook offers a variety of ways you can do this. For instance, you can create a Facebook Business page where you post content and communicate with users through comments. Another interesting way to connect with users is through Facebook Live, where you can stream live events or announcements to viewers. Livestreaming is a major player in 2018 marketing, which makes this feature especially appealing.

The Facebook Algorithm should be another consideration for organizations aiming to increase user participation. The Facebook Algorithm is far too complex to thoroughly explain, but the main takeaway is that not all posted on Facebook is shown to users. This creates a competition to create content that is appealing to users and will therefore appear on their feed. There are many factors that determine what shows up on a specific news feed including the following: relationship with other users, the type of post, content, and even the device that is being used to view Facebook.

Once those technical issues are properly addressed and streamlined, a business is able to create a Facebook Page to share content with viewers.  This page should be an accurate representation of your brand and share content that your customers would like. It is very important to use a variety of posting styles (images, text, or video) and fluctuate content (linked content, original, and promotional). This increases the chance of a user actually seeing your post, as they might have a specific style commonly shown on their newsfeed.

facebook_live_conscious_collaborative.jpg

Another promising feature within a Facebook page is the opportunity to communicate live with users via Facebook Live. Facebook Live gives an unedited, spontaneous feeling to your organization and can strengthen customer loyalty by giving a sneak peek into the business. During Facebook Live events, it is possible to respond back instantly to questions and feedback offered by viewers, allowing your organization to what followers would like to see or know. One tip when considering the use of Facebook Live: Be sure to give your audience advanced notice about when you will be going live so more users are prepared and can join into your stream. When “going live,” it is important to use your time effectively and be prepared for what you will do. This will ensure that you can “broadcast” for a longer amount of time, which is generally a more effective way to reach a larger audience.

The last feature of Facebook worth mentioning is their Insights feature. Insights goes beyond simply documenting who is viewing your profile and posts; it provides critical information about which content is most successful. You are able to understand how people are engaging with your page and can view different metrics regarding your Page’s performance. This is helpful for organizations not familiar in finding analytics as it can be discovered with relative ease through just a couple of clicks on Facebook.

In next week’s post we will explore Twitter and see how Facebook compares to their features.

If you’re looking for more information regarding brand identity and other marketing topics check out our blog and for even more assistance, check out Conscious Collaborative’s services.







 

Resolution Time: How to Create a Stronger Brand Identity in 2018

Conscious_Collaborative_2018.jpg

While the phrase ‘new year, new me’ is overused in basically every New Years Eve-related post, the meaning of it resonates with businesses looking for a fresh start in the coming year. There is no better time to reevaluate past marketing campaigns, set new goals, and create a new strategy than the start of a new year.

One marketing goal that should make the top of your list is creating a stronger brand identity. Doing so will allow your brand to stand out among competitors and build a stronger relationship between you and your customers. In order to accomplish this goal, it is important to do the following:

1.) Re-evaluate Core Competencies: In order to better market your organization, it is critical to discover what makes your brand unique. Organizations should reflect on what distinguishes their business by doing the following:

  • Review the mission statement to identify core values and purpose

  • Customer feedback to find most important qualities in products

  • Evaluate competitors products to see how you are different               

Identifying what makes your business unique will shape future marketing campaigns and the reputation of your organization. In the New Year, take time to make this attribute synonymous with your brand. This will differentiate your brand from competitors and give customers a better idea of what you will offer them.

For example, Apple is a brand that thrives on fortifying their core mission to produce innovative products. Apple’s campaign to think different captured the attention of the public and turned the concept into a lifestyle rather than just an advertising slogan. Through this campaign and branding, they have remained true to the values created by founder Steve Jobs and enhanced their reputation.  

Conscious_Collaborative_apple.png

2.) Consistent Posting Schedule: Another idea to build a stronger brand identity is to create a consistent posting schedule to stay on the radar of consumers. It is important to put out material that is in line with your core competency identified in the previous tip. Consistent social media posting creates depth in your organization and allows you to interact with consumers who have similar, sympathetic interests. You can share related industry news or even interesting articles that will entertain your target market. It also creates a personality for your brand that people can relate to and share with friends and family.                                                                                                                                                                                      An example of a company employing this approach is Starbucks, who post regularly on Twitter with tweets mentioning featured menu items and content for anyone who loves coffee. Not only do they feature a story about Nick Jonas buying coffee and singing for fans in a Starbucks location; they also offer a fun announcement about national Hot Cocoa Day to draw attention back to their products.  By remaining up-to-date with current events and trends - and incorporating them into your posting -  your business remains relevant for consumers.  

3.) Conversation with Customers: In addition to consistent posting, it is critical to interact with customers to create a personal connection and show your personality. Creating an identity for your organization goes beyond just pictures and videos you share; it also extends to interactions with customers using your products or services.  Through this type of communication, you can dramatically change how people view your company based on how you respond to their experiences.

For example, Jet Blue responds to seemingly every tweet they are tagged in. In each interaction, JetBlue provides a friendly response to demonstrate that the company values each and every mention from their customers. Building this kind of reputation increases JetBlue’s brand loyalty and further promotes their brand as a customer-friendly airline service. Thankfully, in our digital era, responding to every customer is an actual possibility and can be done with relative ease. JetBlue takes advantage of this and their reputation (and business) measurably improves as a result.

From everyone on the Conscious Collaborative Team, we are wishing you a Happy New Year and a successful 2018 marketing campaign! For additional articles, check out our blog, where we discuss various marketing ideas to offer you support. If you need help elevating your next campaign, Our team is also available to provide a full range of services.